Until most recently I shared the perspective of many recent graduates and students:
“Why should I do an unpaid internship when I already have work experience?”

“The company would gain more from my work than they could offer me in terms of relevant experience. Why do work that someone else will essentially get paid for?”

Or even…oh, I love this one: “Why work with a small start up company? I want a “big” name to make my CV “look nicer/better/posh”.

Now, after working in an expenses paid internship with a 20-strong start up company, I consider this thinking over-confident (if not arrogant) for a young graduate and severely outmoded in the current economic climate.

I’ll tell you why.

1. Being 20 something does not qualify you to consider yourself in the know. Just because you had three or four work placements doesn’t mean you have the right to slow down and rest on your laurels.
There will be times where you can hopefully say: “I know what is to be known”…but surely not yet.
My advice to you: “Go and work with a start up company and see how you can handle taking on real responsibility.” Those placements are a lot more challenging then working in Famous Ltd. doing something that will be forgotten by your manager by the end of the week. Of course, a smaller company might not be able to provide you with the hold-your-hand-tutor you might be hoping for; someone who will explain you how to fix the world (indeed I think there is no such person at all).
The most efficient and rewarding way to learn is to be forced to deal with a situation that seems initially like Mount Everest but seems like a bump on the road after you’ve been forced to master it.
The thrill you get by solving a seriously challenging problem with your own proactive attitude is an experience that no money can buy (or perhaps pay for)
One thing you can’t learn from work experience at Famous Ltd is how to develop your own personality as well as your skills and ambitions.

2. Everyone is talking about networking and getting a foot in the door; well, why not create a door to step through yourself? Famous Ltd. will have a rolling intern program and there is little chance you’ll find your way onto it until someone either leaves or dies. However, if you contribute your energy and time to a growing working environment and make yourself indispensable, you lay the stones for your future career as opposed to waiting for someone else to lay them for you. What are a few months of a double workload when a full-time placement awaits you? Especially while others will be still waiting for a phone call.

We should strip our pampered attitudes and put in some serious effort to stand out from the crowd. The traditional graduate/well paid position formula doesn’t work anymore and I’m glad that I realize that now.

We should update our attitudes as often as we update our facebook status.

There is no space for a bad attitude in the job market and there never has been!

– Marianne

Inspiring Interns- A company specialises in London Internships and Work Experience Replacements

For a full list of our roles including marketing internships, advertising internships and PR internships check out our London graduate jobs and internships page.